Does God Care About Your Money?

Myth: God only cares about the money you give to the church.

Truth: God cares about what you don’t give to the church as much or more than what you do.

Why do I believe that? Of the more than 800 passages about finances in the Bible, most are in reference to spending–not giving. Jesus spoke more about spending money than most other topics including heaven and hell.

God cares about our spending because it’s public. While our giving is secret—known by God, ourselves, and perhaps our accountants, the vast majority of the money we spend on cars, houses, vacations, and electronics tell our financial story. Indeed, our spending tells the world what kind of Christians we are. Our budgets become our testimonies.

Billy Graham said, “a checkbook is a theological document, it will tell you who and what you worship.” The same is true of our plan to spend, save, and invest. If we spend up everything, we are fools (Prov 21:20). If we hoard our money, we lack faith and risk judgement (Lk 12:18-21). If we don’t have a budget, we squander our responsibility to manage what God has entrusted to us (Mt 25:14–30).

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus told the story of a foolhardy investor. He was building a tower but failed to calculate the cost of the building. In the end his tower was never completed.  According to Jesus, all who saw the unfinished structure mocked the man (Lk 14:29). His irresponsibility was on display to everyone.

How does the world see believers when it comes to our spending habits? Do they see us providing for our families and saving for the future? Do they see us caring for the needy, widows and orphans? Or do they see us maintaining the status quo–deep in debt with no plan of recovery and little hope for the future? I would like to say that they see the former,  but I have my doubts. After all, I spent the first 20 years of my adult life broke and in debt—just like everyone else. My financial testimony was pitiful. It wasn’t until we started paying close attention to what the Bible says about money that things started to change. Thank God for that.

4 Ways To Improve Your Pastor’s Teaching

Bible Pulpit

Each week I spend between 5 and 10 hours preparing my sermon. On Sunday I deliver that sermon two times, once at 9am and once at 11. After each service a handful of people come up to me afterwards and tell me how much they appreciate my words. Most of the time they say, “good sermon” or “good word.” It makes me feel good to hear them say that. I’m not complaining about that.

A lot of times I will respond by asking, “what did you like about it?” or “what stood out to you?” Almost always they have no response. Sometimes they stammer and try to come up with something. They might say “well, it was funny” or “it was just good.” Rarely do they have compelling or helpful feedback. This usually leaves me feeling one of two ways. Either my sermons are just ear candy for people or, they don’t know what makes a sermon good.

If your pastor is like me, he/she need the encouragement. But if you want to give meaningful feedback I suggest you give better reasons for liking the sermon. Here are four principles to guide you.

The Sermon Was Biblical

Many young preachers today rarely crack a Bible when they preach. Or, if they do, they bounce around the text and backup their points. They may use a verse from the gospels, one from the Psalms, and finish up with something from the Epistles. If your pastor preaches from a text and allows the text to shape his/her sermon then you should explain why that is a good thing and how much it means to you. 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

The Sermon Was Relatable

Expository preaching is good. But it’s also good to help a congregation find application points along the way. I call this “putting handles” on a sermon. A great sermon will help a person walk out the door and feel hope. This happens when pastor takes the time to find ways to challenge and encourage the listener. So if your pastor was able to build a bridge between the text and your life, make sure to tell them that you appreciate it. This is exactly what the apostle Paul wrote about in Ephesians 3:8-9 when he said, “this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.”

The Sermon Was Short

I’ll just say it: we pastors love the sound of our own voices. It’s true. When I was a young preacher starting out I had a tendency to allow my sermons to reach 45 minutes or more. In my opinion this is longer than any sermon needs to be. There are no Biblical rules for how long a sermon should be. Paul preached a sermon that was so long a young man fell asleep–then out of a window! Modern audience get their information in small bites. Most people have trouble paying attention for more than 30 minutes. The reason why a lot of sermons are too long has nothing to do with good content. Sermons are too long due to a lack of preparation. A seasoned preacher will trim unnecessary parts from the sermon in order to deliver a well-crafted message that gets to the point quickly. Moses asked God to “teach us to number our days” (Psalm 90:12). If that is true of our days it is imperative of our minutes. If you appreciate a well-timed Biblical sermon tell your pastor, “thank you.”

The Sermon Was Convicting

People need to be challenged by a sermon – they like to be “beaten up” a little by the text. This is exactly what James had in mind when he described the Bible being like a mirror (James 1:23). A good teacher will hold the mirror of the scriptures up to the congregation. Many times that means he/she might have to bruise some egos and step on a few toes. If you feel convicted during a sermon let the Pastor know. It means that their teaching was a vehicle for the Holy Spirit to do His work.

Your pastor appreciates the feedback – both good and bad. Make sure your feedback is specific. That way your pastor will be able to get a sense of how to stay on track from week to week.